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Transferring from a Four-Year School to a Community College (aka Reverse Transferring)

Wait…transferring from a four-year school to a two-year school? Reverse transferring is more common than you may think.

For lots of students, this decision is based on finances but for others – maybe even just as many – they make the switch because they selected their first school for the wrong reasons and want to continue their education as they figure out their next step. Community college is the perfect place to do this: A more flexible schedule that includes easily-transferrable general education classes gives students plenty of time to research new schools, learn about other majors and get application materials in order without taking a year off. Reverse transfer students also often have time to work either part- or full-time while attending school and earn money to pay down outstanding loans and supplement tuition and fees.

Begin the reverse transfer process as you would the traditional transfer process (notifying your current school, filling out the community college’s application, obtaining transcripts and letters of recommendation, etc.). Once your application has been accepted, schedule an appointment with an adviser. Use this initial meeting to explain your decision to reverse transfer and inquire as to what path you should be taking. If you know the major you would like to pursue, your adviser can suggest the appropriate classes (and the ones that will transfer to a four-year school, if you plan to return to one) but if you want to explore a different major, you can work together to determine the programs that best complement your existing interests and skillset.

Reverse transferring also brings an additional set of challenges outside the classroom. If you’re used to the wealth of campus activities at a large state school, the general lack of campus life at community colleges may take some getting used to. The same goes for living arrangements: There are typically no on-campus residence halls at community colleges so students must either find their own apartment and roommates or move back in with parents or relatives. The latter can be a difficult adjustment for students used to living by their own rules but it’s worth it if it means getting back on the right educational track. Added bonus: Living with family is usually free.

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